What is a Floating Floor?

by Charlie
What is a Floating Floor

If you have ever come across the concept of a floating floor, you might be curious and a little puzzled. This phrase sounds like it should refer to something futuristic and highly technical, but it’s actually something that many homes employ, and it can have many uses. If you are redoing floors in your home, you might want to consider installing some floating floor.

There are lots of different kinds of floors out there, and each one offers different benefits and drawbacks. If you aren’t sure what you need for your home, you should spend some time weighing up the options, because floors are often expensive and most people change them infrequently. Getting it right is therefore important.

What is a floating floor? Floating floors are any floors that are not fixed to the subfloor in some way. The planks sit above the subfloor, rather than being glued, nailed, or otherwise attached to it. It may rest against the subfloor or a layer of underlay, but it will not be fastened down. Not all types of flooring are suitable for floating floors.

What is a Floating Floor?

Any floor that has not been bonded to the subfloor is referred to as a floating floor. There are many different types, so it is worth understanding this before you settle on wanting a floating floor. There are quite a few advantages offered by this kind of flooring, but it has some drawbacks too – so let’s explore those.

First, let’s look at the benefits offered by this kind of floor. There are quite a few. It is generally easy to lift up the boards or planks so you can access the space underneath, which can be ideal if you’ve got pipework or cables under there.

Secondly, removing damaged planks to replace them tends to be quick and simple, as you can just click them out and put a new one in place. This sort of flooring is also usually faster to lay, which makes it cheaper in many cases.

It has some small cost savings because you don’t need glue, nails, adhesives, etc., to fix the floor down. It’s also easier for a DIY enthusiast, and if something goes wrong, you can just pick the planks up and re-lay them in a new position.

Additionally, if you have this kind of floor, it’s easy to add underlayment that improves the insulation, reduces noise, makes the floor more comfortable to walk on, and levels out any imperfections.

Of course, there are some downsides too. One of the most significant is that not all kinds of floors can be installed as floating floors – so you will be limiting your choices. For example, stone tiles, carpet, solid wood, vinyl tiles, and cork will not usually be suitable for floating floors. You’ll have to choose vinyl click flooring or laminate flooring in most cases.

Another drawback is that your subfloor will need to be very even to reduce stress on the floating floor. Because it isn’t being directly supported by the subfloor, the floating floor is more likely to crack or split if there are imperfections, simply because it is under more stress.

Additionally, you will almost always need to add underlay, which is an added expense. Of course, the underlay does offer the benefits mentioned above, which may offset this drawback a bit. Floating floors sometimes feel a little hollow and they can be loud to walk on, especially if little or no underlay is used.

What Floors are Often Floating?

Laminate is probably the commonest example of a floating floor. Because laminate planks are designed to click together with a tongue and groove system or something similar, they work well without being fixed down. Vinyl plank flooring also offers this advantage and can be used for floating floors. Some people use engineered wood instead, though this can be fixed down, depending on the brand.

As you can see, floating floors are somewhat limited because they require the floor to have some system by which it holds itself still. If you just laid flat planks of wood down without fixing them into place, they would shift and rock against each other when walked on, and this would ruin the floor.

You almost always need a system that holds the pieces of flooring together so the floor doesn’t move. If the planks don’t have some sort of locking system and can’t be glued together, they will have to be fixed to the subfloor in order to be safe and durable.

Are Floating Floors Expensive?

On the whole, adding a floating floor is cheaper than adding a fixed floor. This is because these floors take a lot less time to click into place than nailing, grouting, or otherwise bonding a floor would take. Whether you’re employing someone or doing it yourself, the ease of installation is definitely a benefit.

You do need to take into account the need for underlay, but if you would be adding this anyway, this can be ignored. Even if you wouldn’t use underlay, some or all of the cost may be offset by the fact that you will not need to buy grout, nails, glue, etc. A small amount of glue may be needed to hold the planks together, but that’s all.

Can Floating Floors Be Reused?

If you want to take up a floating floor but rescue the materials, this can be done in most cases. It will be harder if you have glued any of the parts together while setting the floor in place, but often, you’ll be able to recycle the materials into a new project.

This means the floors are a great option for many people working on a tight budget.

Final Thoughts

A floating floor is a way of installing click and lock flooring simply and easily, without attaching it to the subfloor. This has some significant advantages, but only some kinds of floor can be installed using this method, and it needs a high quality underlay beneath it to provide heat and sound insulation.

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